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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  January 5, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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>> victory. >> victory? the only victory i see is for our nation's comediennes. well, herman, have a nice bus tour. i hope you have a lot of pizza on the bus. i'm too busy trying to top your colleagues from taking americans on the ride. tomorrow herman will be on with "now" with alex wagner. thanks for much whatting. "hardball" starts right now. can midamerica ever be mitt's america? let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews at the armory in manchester, new hampshire, where in just five days now, this state will hold its first
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in the country primary. leading off tonight, we are the 75%. that's the 75% of republicans who have never supported mitt romney, didn't vote for him on tuesday in iowa, and don't want him as their nominee. they've signed the abm treaty, if you will, anyone but mitt. but who? rick santorum? how well will santorum have to do in new hampshire next tuesday to become a real challenger? the warhead. could he become the warhead of the abm crowd? the good news for santorum is he's peaked at just the right time, before he could be hit by his rivals, vetted by the media. the bad news, there's time now. just who is this deeply conservative republican who won twice in blue state pennsylvania before getting clobbered by 18 points? plus, when president obama appointed richard cordray as head of the new consumer financial protection bureau, he essentially had five words for
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congressional republicans. like it or lump it. the president's feisty new attitude has as much to do with politics as anything else. he'd love a fight. and what two republican presidential candidates have managed to get themselves into a silly twitter war? that's in the "hardball sideshow" tonight. let me finish tonight with the conservative church tent of the far right opening its flaps to catholics. we start with the 75% who have never supported mitt romney. "time" magazine's mark halperin is msnbc's senior political analyst and jonathan martin is politico's senior political reporter. and here it is. remember last month's cover of "time" magazine? well, there on the left was a picture of romney asking, "why don't they like me?" well, this month's cover, on the right-hand side, the headline "so now they like me." mark halperin, will you explicate that cover. does that mean they do or we're still asking? do they like him? >> we're still asking, but they like him enough that he won iowa. there were ways to argue that there was not a big accomplishment. >> eight individual votes. >> won only by eight. spent a lot of money there,
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super pac spent a lot of money, but he won. and i think some of the people who are playing down his chances now are suggesting that he's under a lot of pressure is early wins matter more than late wins. delegation accumulation is not what matters now, although he's stronger long-term than anybody else, he's going to win some states early, it looks like, maybe the first four. and i think these other candidates like gingrich today told me he thinks he can still be stopped at that point. i'm not so sure that's true. >> that's an amazing bold assessment. do you think it's within the realm of real possibility he has won iowa by eight points, eight votes. he could clearly win next week here. he's a strong favorite here next tuesday. he could win in south carolina and in florida. he could roll the table. >> i think he could. and i think if you asked me to bet on an individual outcome, not a prediction, but one outcome, that's the one i'd bet on today. >> let's, for purposes of "hardball," let's look at another option.
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jonathan, looking down the next few days, what has to happen for that to be -- for that to be knocked off the table. for him to have his streak broken? does someone have to do well enough up here next tuesday to come in second and roll into south carolina, and would that person be his main challenger in south carolina, the one who comes in second here? i need an answer. would the person who comes in here second next tuesday night be his main challenger in south carolina? >> yes. here's why. that's the easiest answer. santorum, based on his iowa win, catches fire in the next five days. he's getting a ton of free media coverage. we're covering him all the time. he has great debates on saturday and sunday. he roars into second place, maybe gets into the 20s here, and he still loses to romney, but he's a solid second. and it's clear that he's become the conservative alternative. then in south carolina, perry has collapsed, newt has collapsed. he beats romney squarely in south carolina. and at that point, you've got a romney/santorum race going to florida. >> i'll go back to you, following that option.
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which is a more interesting option to me, obviously, because it keeps this game going, let's be honest about it, and it keeps them fighting with each other. for rick santorum to capitalize on a strong second place here next tuesday, does he need for newt gingrich to say, okay, i'm really going to be an ally now, of santorum? does he need that to happen to win in south carolina? >> not necessarily. i think romney must -- jonathan's scenario, i think, has to include romney making a mistake or two. perhaps in these debates. not just other people doing well. romney hasn't lifted a finger to go after santorum. no super pac money's been spent on him. so if we get down to south carolina and romney's threatened by rick santorum because he's had a strong showing here, i think they'll go have more. look, i'd like contest too, i'd like the voters to decide, i don't want to pre-judge any of it. but i think the coverage suggests that romney's vulnerable. and i don't know that he is. >> let's look at the numbers now and see where they have to go from here to get tight and interesting. the new hampshire tracking poll from suffolk university
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taken on tuesday and wednesday shows romney leading with 41% of the vote, are ron paul well behind in second place with 18 points. santorum, gingrich, and huntsman are all way back in single digits. so this is an early poll, coming right out of this, jonathan. it seems to me what's going to have to happen for this to be interesting, check me on this is, romney will get 35, at least, but if he's held to the 30s, and as you say, santorum pulls into the 20s, so it's 35/25, that's a big night for santorum, right? >> that's probably the best-case scenario for santorum. i think mark's right. i think romney's rivals need some luck. they need romney, neither a debate or on the trail, something to happen for him, to him, rather, for him to fade. >> in south carolina? >> it can be here or in south carolina. >> you guys watched him as closely as i did. i was trailing him around in the parking lot out there in iowa. this guy is so careful now, first of all, he won't fall into any trap you set for him. he won't speak french, obviously, in public. >> you tried that. >> i tried that. >> i couldn't even get him to
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speak pig latin. >> ixnay on that. so here we go. i watched him sign autographs. he signs it each letter. it's not like colin powell where he writes "colin" with a "c" across the line. this guy is meticulously self-controlled. i'm dead serious. if a man is that self-controlled with little things like that, he will be tricked into a gag line or wrong an by a reporter? >> i think it's possible, but unlikely. keep in mind, interesting things have happened in the final days in new hampshire over the years. the stories are legion. one more point, there are 11 days between the new hampshire primary and the south carolina primary. to mark's point, if santorum does get into the 20s here and romney falls short of 40 and th romney super pac realizes that romney is threat, they have 12 days after them.
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>> romney has been going after santorum. last night telling new hampshire voters not to buy into the argument that romney's the most electable candidate. let's listen. >> i love this issue. that i hear all the time. oh, the certain candidate is the most electable. what would give you that impression? when has that candidate ever run as a conservative? gotten any votes? never. so why would you assume that he's the most electable? is it because he raises the most money? don't buy the media hype. don't buy the lie that you have to be a moderate -- >> so it's the media fault again. i love the way they turn this around. it's always the media's fault. the gingrich campaign is up with a new ad. this is gingrich going after romney's economic policy. here's gingrich going after romney. let's watch. >> romney's economic plan, timid. parts of it virtually identical to obama's failed policy. timid won't create jobs and timid certainly won't defeat barack obama. newt gingrich's bold leadership balanced the budget, reformed welfare, helped create millions
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of new jobs. the gingrich jobs plan, a powerful plan for growing our economy and creating jobs. rebuilding the america we love with bold conservative leadership. >> i'm newt gingrich and i approve this message. >> you know, that seems almost off message for newt, because he's so much involved in the intramural fisticuffs now with romney. it's so personal, and here's an objective case for newt gingrich, when, in fact, all you hear from him is, screw romney. >> i think it's a decent ad, but i don't think there's enough points behind it. it's not on boston tv. there's not enough points behind it to drive a message. >> repeat performances? >> right. i thought i could say stuff like points on "hardball"? >> no.
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>> no, okay. romney is really benefiting, i think, the messages they have -- romney has everything. he has tons of money. these people don't have opposition research to say, here's something new about romney. all this stuff, new hampshire voters have heard this stuff all year. >> i was struck by something new the other day, which is that the massachusetts health care plan does include coverage for abortion services, which did surprise a lot of us. >> that's a good example. i'm not sure new hampshire's the best place to try to win that fight compared to iowa or south carolina. but they're all trying to drive a message against romney now. they didn't do it in new hampshire. today, gingrich was asked about santorum by a voter, he said i love him, i would never say anything bad about him, but he was a junior. santorum's asked about it, he shoots back at gingrich. they've still fighting each other, because they've got to get over each other to become the alternative. >> everybody says the only way santorum pulls into second place, to the 25% he's got to get up here, is to take votes to gingrich. so although they may end up allies, they're not allies now. >> and the biggest ally for newt in the state is the "union leader" paper, and if you grab it today on the front page, you see an editorial advocates for
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newt and against romney. >> even the front page tilted towards gingrich, i thought. that left-hand side stuff. i'm sorry, i don't want to criticize the paper, but i thought it did show its hand there. >> the editorial certainly did on the front page. that's not helpful for santorum. his success is predicated on a gingrich collapse. if that's not happening here, it would be difficult for santorum to get to the 20s. >> the way romney keeps his leadership without getting boring, he continues to turn every question from every reporter like us as an attack on obama. that's his technique, to avoid being boring. >> one of his huge advantages has been and remains, he's seen as the most electable. republicans who aren't wildly enthusiastic about him even against him think that he's our best bet to beat obama. it's always the strongest thing, if you can be nominated running on your general election mental, message, that's the strongest place to be. >> but he can't just say, i'm the most electable over and over, he'll become boring. people will say he's not standing for anything. what he stands for is, i'll take
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the fight to president obama, over and over again. >> the words he's using now will be the words he's going to be using on labor day of this year. if he's the nominee. it's what bush did in 2000. >> let's take a look. here he is, governor romney, he doesn't seem to be intimated by the attacks coming from his own side. here he is on cbs just yesterday. let's listen. >> i've got broad shoulders. i know that when you get in a campaign, there's a big target on you. obviously, it's a small target compared to what's going to come from the democratic national committee and barack obama. they've already begun attacking me. i'm not too worried about that. let the attacks come. i think the american people are going to focus on whether or not i've got the skills to lead the country. >> isn't he being grand? as the rabbi once said, he who gave me burdens also gave me shoulders. and i was thinking, what a grand statement for him to make. i've got the shoulders to take these attacks on my back. i've got the little attack target from the right, but a bigger one coming from obama. >> you know, our colleagues in the last 24 hours, because we want to race and because romney
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is a big target, have gone after romney. he was at an event yet, you can read a thousand story picking it apart. >> wait a minute. not everybody has gone after -- excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. let's take a look at the "time" magazine cover, your outfit. this isn't exactly an attack on romney. this is almost a statement -- i know you didn't write it -- >> i shouldn't say everybody. >> but "time" is still supporting the idea that this guy might have it. >> i think that's the right place to be editorially today as a snapshot. the romney operation is strong and the message that he's running on, he's going to be well rested for the debate. i bet he does more debate prep than anybody else. because they're being careful. they're meticulous. >> all right, the odds spreading over in dublin are about 90. is that really a good bet? put $10 to get $1? is that a smart bet? it's that good for romney? >> give me a good scenario where he's not the nominee. >> jonathan? >> i wouldn't bet -- >> $10 to $1? >> as mark said, it's hard to see a scenario right now where
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he doesn't ultimately win this thing. he still could trip along the way. there's no question. i think south carolina could still present some challenges for him. i think long term he's in a strong place. >> i wonder if he's a better politician or just more cautious and he has a lead. he may not be as smart as his numbers right now. >> chris, as mark said, he's the only candidate in this race running a high-level, sophisticated, national campaign. he's the only one. >> that matters. there are candidates in this race right now who think they're going to be the nominee who aren't even get on the ballot in major states. >> as they said in that great movie "the verdict," it's the long road that has no tarn, anyway -- that's "turn." coming up, is rick santorum in the anti-romney conservatives. is he one of them? have they been looking for this guy? or is he the latest republican to just peak and then just fade? he hasn't fated yet. he hasn't faded yet. and this sunday, the big "meet the press" debate. the republican presidential candidates debate in concord. and starting at 10:30 eastern, join me for post-debate coverage, the only place you can get it, and analysis. you're watching "hardball" from the manchester armory, five days before the new hampshire primary.
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welcome back to "hardball." after rick santorum's strong showing in iowa tuesday, people are asking whether he is the anti-romney alternative. many conservatives have been hoping to find or whether he's just the latest candidate to peak and then collapse. can santorum stand up to the national scrutiny that's coming his way? he has yet to be truly vetted. let's look at his record. robert traynham is the comcast washington bureau chief. he served as an aide to santorum for ten years. and dana milbank is, of course, the swashbuckling columnist for "the washington post." robert, thank you for joining us. and you really know him. i want to talk about some issues about how conservative he is on issues. in october of this year, october santorum raised eyebrows with comments about birth control. birth control, not abortion. he told a blogger, "one of the things i will talk about that no president has talked about
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before is i think the dangers of contraception in this country. it's not okay. it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." well, last night bill o'reilly asked him about his views on contraception. let's listen. >> you say that the states should have the right to ban some contraception. that's right off the bat going to be a big one. >> well, the states have the right to do a lot of things. that doesn't mean they should do it. someone asked me if the states have the right to do it. yes, they have the right to do it. they shouldn't do it. i wouldn't vote for it if they did, but that doesn't mean they have the right to do it. as you know, bill, you're a catholic, catholic church teaches that contraception -- >> i know, but -- >> -- so when i was asked the question on contraception, i said i didn't support it. >> well, actually, i think bill o'reilly's right about the view of the average catholic churchman. but the lady doesn't make the
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rules in the church, and maybe it shouldn't -- to keep things cool here. here's the question, dana, here's a guy who believes that the supreme court decision, the griswald decision, the famous one that basically opened the door to roe v. wade basically said that states can't outlaw -- you can't say that no condoms can be sold in drugstores. it's an individual privacy right. here's a guy saying it's not a privacy right. this guy goes past robert bork here. >> oh, sure. we've got abortion to -- >> condoms, iuds, everything. >> there's widespread support and moral support for it as well. i think what's happened here is, and moral support. no one had any idea, really, what rick santorum was, because we were focused on all the other people. i've been following him on and off for two decades now. so i have a pretty good sense as to why this kind of conservatism doesn't really hold up here. to speak about birth control that way, to use the phrase "man on dog" in a discussion about gay people in america, these things are so far out of the realm of the ordinary
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conversation, republicans and democrats alike. >> robert, i do think it's off-base for him to go to bill o'reilly and say, you're a fellow catholic, you should have my views on this, when, in fact, we're talking about constitutional decisions, not about theological or moral decisions. he takes the moral and theological and puts it right there confronting the constitutional question of whether a woman or a male has the right to buy birth control devices. explain that why he would think like that, or does he think like that? >> two things, first and foremost, i'm not a spokesman, so i can't get too much inside of his head. but knowing rick the way i know him, i think what he said there with bill o'reilly is like, look, i am for banning partial birth abortion, i am adamantly pro-life -- >> that's not what they were talking about. robert, you're wrong. they weren't talking about that. they weren't talking about abortion at all. they were talking about contraception. stick to the subject. where does he stand? does he think you can outlaw contraception under the constitution? does he believe that? >> chris, that was my next point, if i could finish -- >> no, begin, not finish. get to the point here.
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is he against birth control legally? >> go ahead. >> is he talking about it's okay to legalize it, to ban it? does he believe that? >> i don't know the answer to that question. i know what he just said, that's a states' rights issue, and if i was voting on that, i would vote no. but he said, as a catholic, my catholic teaching has told me that the pill is a no-no, thus in the process, rick santorum is saying that, that that should not be allowed in the public square. i think that's what he was trying to say. >> no, he didn't. he's saying my religion should trump issues of the constitution. he's saying, bill o'reilly, we're of the same religion, therefore we should deny a woman's constitutional right to buy birth control. or a male to buy birth control. isn't that what he said? >> i don't think he said that. >> he just did. that's what scares me. he thinks we should have a theocracy. let's take a look at this. here's rick santorum opposing the lawrence v. texas decision that struck down any sodomy laws.
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here he is early this year defending his initial opposition, which he was criticized heavily for. let's watch. >> i said, if the supreme court says that you have the right to consensual sexual activity, then you have the right to incest, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to all of these other sexual variations. and so the gay community said, he's comparing gay sex to incest and polygamy, how dare he do this. and they have gone out on a, i would argue, a jihad against rick santorum since then. >> okay. i'll give you first shot at that, robert. what do you think he's saying there? >> i think what he's saying is, is that there's not a right to privacy under the constitution, and thus in the process, if you don't have the right to do certain things in your home. from a legal standpoint, he's kind of right. i mean, the word "privacy" is nowhere in the constitution. however, and let me be very clear about this, chris. i am a gay person. i am openly gay and i am right. i am out. i believe i have the right under the constitution, this is me
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speaking here, to obviously fall in love and be with whomever i choose too. >> sure. >> so that's where -- >> where's he on that? where's santorum on that? on what you just said? >> i'm sorry? >> where's santorum on what you just said? did he agree with your right to do what you just said? to have your own orientation and to act on it? >> i believe senator santorum believes in that. where we disagree with is he believes, obviously, i should not have the right to marry, and i fundamentally disagree with him on that. >> no, doesn't he go further and say that you should not be allowed to be gay in any actual way? >> oh, absolutely not. >> doesn't he say that, pretty much? >> absolutely not. absolutely not. >> boy, i understand he says you have a right to your identity, but not to your behavior. >> well, you need to ask rick santorum about that. but i've worked for him for ten years. i was openly out to him. i never, ever heard him say anything remotely like that at all. >> so he's never come out against gay basic sexual behavior? he's never had a problem with that? >> again, you have to ask him specifically, but i've never,
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ever heard him say anything like that. and let me be very clear about this, because this is something that's very personal to me. if, in fact, i ever heard him say anything like that, if in fact i ever thought he thought that, i would never work for him. this is ridiculous. this is absolutely ridiculous. >> you're in a good position, robert, to explicate him on television. i'm glad you're a guest. you seem to agree that he has constitutional differences with liberals, obviously, on the right to privacy. he's more with judge bjork on that. you argue that he's not anti-gay in terms of identity. where is his disagreement with the gay community? why do they really go after him all the time? what's the issue there? >> because he speaks very passionately about the fact that he believes that gays and lesbians should not marry. he believes in the sanctity of marriage. he believes that marriage should be defined by one man and one woman. and that's, obviously, something that runs counter to folks that are like me, that happen to fall in love with someone of the same sex. that is a major, major disagreement that a lot of gays and lesbians feel towards senator santorum. >> does he believe that people like you have a right to serve the country with open
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orientation? >> when you say serve the country, do you mean in the military? >> yes. don't ask, don't tell, where's he on that? >> i don't know the answer to that. i don't know the answer to that. >> you don't know. i thought you might. let me go back to -- let's take another issue, the hawkish position -- we don't have time. what do you make of all of this? is this going to become an issue with him and the other conservatives? >> of course it is. and robert is saying his boss was a decent man who didn't discriminate against him, and that's well and good, but what we're talking about as a country right now is what santorum believes on these policies. and he has always been out there. it's a big government issue, government can constrain and direct the morals of the people. whether that was the faith-based initiative, welfare reform, teri schiavo and gay rights. there's a whole, long list of this where he says, governments should be able to tell people what sort of moral behavior is acceptable and is not. that's really not something that's in the mainstream of our debate right now. >> well, i feel -- >> can i respond? >> your turn. >> senator santorum, when i worked for him, he would use your argument, mark, and say, wait a minute, the government
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does have a responsibility from a moral standpoint to sometimes tell us when we're wrong. he makes that example when it comes to slavery. he makes that example when it comes to the persecution of african-americans during the civil rights movement. so there's been many times -- and again, this is what the senator would say, many times when the government had the right and should have the right to intervene in telling us that we were wrong in terms of how we were living our life from society's standpoint. >> let me point out what i think. you have your personal relationship with him, robert, which i value. personal terms tell you things that you don't get from public statements. but the public statements are clear. he just said for bill o'reilly, he thinks it's all right for the state to outlaw the purchase of birth control devices. that's an invasive national policy. to me, that's the government going into people's private lives that they shouldn't. i think it's a real challenge to anybody who cares about individual liberties. he also is very clear on the fact he thinks it's okay to outlaw what he calls sodomy. fine, but that's a very invasive federal policy or state policy. allow the government to come in and say, you can't have sexual acts between people of the same sex. that is a very invasive public
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policy. and we ought to know this about the guy. these are serious issues and they really do offend a lot of americans. anyway, thank you, dana, and thank you, robert. we'll have these arguments. up next, there's a twitter war, i don't know how important it is, going on between ron paul and jon huntsman. i don't think they're the two more important candidates, but they're having a little bit of a kerfuffle. you're watching "hardball" from the armory in manchester, new hampshire, only on msnbc. dry mouth may start off as an irritant. it'll cause cavities, bad breath.
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back to "hardball" now for the side show. first up, no hard feelings. that may have come as a surprise when mitt romney scored the endorsement of john mccain earlier this week. they weren't exactly on the best of terms during the 2008 race. mccain may not be harboring a grudge, but he still took the opportunity to joke, if you will, about romney's marginal
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win in iowa and their 2008 face-off during romney's own town hall last night. let's listen. >> i thought that was a pretty good performance for a guy who -- landslide romney, who comes to you tonight on an hour and a half's sleep. by the way, mitt was an enormous help to me in my campaign and i'll always be grateful for it. after i lost, i slept like a baby. sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up -- >> well, he's much more lighthearted this time around, obviously. that's for sure. need a reminder? here's the video that hit the home-page of a pro-gingrich super pac just after the endorsement of mccain by romney brought to us by team mccain in the last election cycle. let's watch a portion of it. ♪ >> i believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. i will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose and i am
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devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. >> you will not see me wavering on that or be a multiple choice. thank you very much. >> you can go back to youtube and look at what i said in 1994. i never said i was pro-choice. my position was effectively pro-choice. >> wow. the obama camp might just take a look at the bit of news clips. next up, pointing fingers. some confusion on tuesday night when jon huntsman became the unlikely target of a tweet from ron paul. during the iowa caucus vote, the tweet said, quote, "we found your one iowa voter. he's in dug something precinct 5. you might want to call him and say thanks." there's a jab that served absolutely no purpose. later on, paul explained that the tweet was put out by a joke by his staffers. you think huntsman was amused by the pettiness of it all? he answered that one during an interview last night. >> you think he would have learned the perils of ghost-written subject matter by
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now. but, i have to tell you, at the end of the day, i actually found it to be pretty humorous. you've got to have a little bit of levity and humor in this business or you'll go crazy. just tell dr. paul that i owe him a tweet in return and he should be expecting one sometime soon. >> well, no doubt that was a reference to those racially charged newsletters that came out under paul's name back in the '90s. wow. anyway, up next, we're going to get into the kerfuffle over president obama's recess appointment of richard cordray, next. no doubt the president's looking for a fight, but it's a fight he thinks he can win. is he right? the "hardball" strategists join us next. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. it seems like for every anti-aging problem, there's a different cream. i challenge that with olay. i've found one cream with everything i'm looking for... olay total effects. with 7 age defying effects in just one, easy to use cream. i've swapped to all-in-one total effects. why don't you swap too? forty years ago, he wasn't looking for financial advice. back then he had something more important to do.
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i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. president obama says the u.s. is turning a page after bringing
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troops home from iraq and killing osama bin laden. speaking at the pentagon he unveiled plans for a leaner, but superior military. the new strategies have a focus on counter-terrorism and homeland security. some republicans are criticizing the changes. a new video of casey anthony has surfaced. in the clips she talks about her post-trial life and at one point called her video diary. one of the attorneys says it was released without her consent and now they're investigating how the video got posted. 5,000 artifacts from the titanic are heading to the auction block. the treasures will be sold as a single block and are valued at $189 million. they go on sale in april 100 years after the ship sank in the north atlantic. now back to "hardball."
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welcome back to "hardball." we've spent most of the show tonight talking about the republican versus republican fight, but ultimately, the winner is going to take on the guy living at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, whose team is watching everything, waiting and scheming. so let's bring in the "hardball" strategist for the first time in 2012 to talk about how the president might be gaming the big race coming up. joining me now is democratic strategist steve mcmahon and republican strategist todd harris. gentleman, i'm looking for sharp insight in this new year. the bar -- the standard has risen now. i want acute understanding of what's coming here. first of all, let's get the bowling shirts on right now. i know, steve, you're for the president. and i want to find, todd, are you now with romney? is this something we can say on the air? where are you with romney? >> no, i'm not working for any candidate. i will say i think mitt romney's
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got the best chance of all the republicans to beat president obama, but i'm, you know, but i'm not working for him. >> okay, well, that said, let's take a look at the head-to-head matchups with the top tier of republican candidates. president obama up against president obama, tied with mitt romney. basically 9 president beats newt gingrich handily by nine points. beats ron paul by eight points. there hasn't been enough polling on president obama. and rick santorum, head to head. so given all that, including the shocking fact, todd, that ron paul's within eight points of president obama, which is an amazing revolting development as we used to say, what do you make of that right now? does that tell you really that romney is the strongest on your side? >> well, that's something -- i don't think most people need a poll to come to that conclusion. what it tells me is a couple things. number one, this is going to be an extraordinarily close race. ron paul has a fervent base of support, but the fact is, a good chunk of his beliefs are outside the mainstream of the average american voter, and the fact
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that he is within eight points shows you how truly polarized this electorate's going to be. it's going to be a close race and probably going to be a nasty one. >> you know, that's amazing, steve, the fact that ron paul, a man who clearly is outside the mainstream, not that he's wrong, but that he's outside the mainstream, is at least on this poll doing as well as bob dole did, running against bill clinton, back in '96, 41 points. how do you explain the fact that there's an automatically strong 40-plus vote percentage for any of the serious republican challengers? >> i think todd's right, this is a very polarized electorate, even right now, 11 or 12 months away from the actual election. and what you're going to see is a very, very divisive kind of race. the president is shoring up his base. you saw that in the appointment of cordray today. and i think the republicans are sorting this thing out. but the 41% you're looking at for ron paul is just the number
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of people who will vote against president obama, regardless of who the nominee is. i think ron paul shows you what the base or the floor for a republican candidate is. and -- >> it's a good floor. >> right now mitt romney shows you what the ceiling is. this is the going to be fought right in that one or two or three or four-point range. the good news for the white house is they've got a lot of ways to get there. >> i think i disagree with you. do you think that's right, todd, that the floor is down at 41 and the ceiling's around 45. >> i'm sorry, chris. >> your thoughts on the eventual nominee that faces president obama, will he or she start with 45? is there any way they could get less? >> no, i think that's where they start. i'm sure steve would love for the ceiling to be 45, but it's not going to be. someone is going to win this race with 51% of the vote. >> no, i agree with that. i'm sorry, what i meant was, right now, you see mitt romney, not pulling ahead of the president. you don't see any republican pulling ahead of the president. there's a 41 floor for the republican party. if ron paul were the nominee, he might get 41, probably would, but he wouldn't get 45. he certainly wouldn't get 48,
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and he definitely wouldn't get 50. the same is true for a number of the other candidates that have been paraded out by the republicans this year. >> i get the sense, todd, that the guy that probably will be the guy who probably will be your nominee, looks like romney down the road, will earn it. is willing to do anything to win. the campaign he ran in iowa was ferocious, it was effective, it destroyed his opponent, and maybe knocked him out of the game altogether. he did it with super pac money and never put his signature on it. is that a look at the coming war? was that like the spanish civil war giving us a preview of world war ii, the kind of battle it's going to be on both sides? vicious, negative attacks, launched by separate, supposedly independent super pacs? >> i think it's going to look more like world war iii. this is going to be the broadcast tv equivalent of global thermonuclear war. the only difference in 2012 is that neither of the actual campaigns are going to be the ones with their fingers on the button. both sides are going to have hundreds of millions of dollars
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to spend on negative tv. the obama campaign, you know, first campaign ever to break the billion-dollar mark -- >> and highly negative, and highly pretending to be independent. the same question to you, quickly, steve. i noticed that axelrod, david axelrod, did not rule out running a very negative campaign against whoever the republican is. >> it's going to be a very negative campaign, and mitt romney is going to have to explain his record and, you know, it's going to be a negative campaign. it's going to be a negative campaign on both sides. i don't think that's a surprise to anybody. >> there's just no path for the white house to get re-elected without going scorched earth, because they've got to turn this campaign into a referendum on their opponent. mitt romney or whoever our nominee is is going to make this a referendum on the last four years and the economy. the white house is going to try to do the exact opposite. >> do you agree with that? >> no, if it's a referendum, the president running against himself -- >> that's right. >> he's going to make it into a choice.
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and he's going to make it also into an education process about mitt romney's record and the fact he's been just about everywhere on just about every issue. and you cannot count on this person to represent your values, to fight for you, and that will become clear, as it did in massachusetts, when -- >> you just said it in a nice way. steve, you said it in a nice way, it's going to be a campaign of what we call comparison ads after comparison ads, and some of them won't even be comparisons, they will just be outright negative, and they won't benefit from the "i am barack obama and i paid for this ad," you won't hear that. you won't hear it from romney, because you didn't hear it in iowa. you both are the best. thank you. up next, a top romney supporter in this state, the former governor and the former chief of staff to the first president bush, the great, if you will, john sununu's going to join me to talk about what looks to be the headline. by the way, i'm going to be at the barnes & noble here up in manchester this sunday afternoon signing copies of my new book "jack kennedy: elusive hero," it's been on "new york times" best-seller list for nine weeks. it's an important book for
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political people, in the middle of this campaign. this is "hardball" from the armory in manchester, new hampshire, just five days from the big primary up here. [ male announcer ] every day, thousands of people are choosing advil. my name is lacey calvert and i'm a yoga instructor. if i have any soreness, i'm not going to be able to do my job. but once i take advil, i'm able to finish out strong. it really works! [ laughs ] [ male announcer ] make the switch. take action. take advil. if you took the top down on a crossover? if there were buttons for this? wouldn't it be cool if your car could handle the kids... ♪ ...and the nurburgring? or what if you built a car in tennessee that could change the world? yeah, that would be cool. nissan. innovation for today.
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coming after mitt romney right now. one item in particular is his massachusetts healthcare plan, which covers abortion services. it also provides for a member of planned parenthood to sit on a payment advisory board. that should be red meat for the right. john the former governor of this state, and he was chief of staff to the first president bush. he's supporting mitt romney. real powerful fellow up here. i'm going to give you 30 seconds. why bush? i'm sorry. why romney? i get them mixed up. >> because i'm very partial to conservative republican governors that have experience in running a government like a state. i think mitt romney showed when he was governor he was a conservative. he cut spending. he cut taxes. he stood for life when he vetoed the bill that was going to change the definition of life. he stood up against the supreme court's decision on gay marriage. and he kept massachusetts out of the greenhouse gas initiative. >> he ran for governor of massachusetts by declaring that he was pro choice. >> and when he became governor
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and had something brought to him and spent the time to think about what it really meant, spent a lot of time talking to people on the ethics side, people on the science side, he came to the conclusion that he really could not let that legislation -- >> so don't go by what he promises in the campaign? >> i think what you ought to go by is his record after he swore -- took his oath of office as governor. that's the stand that i think -- >> what about this larger question, another question? individual mandate. i believe that every person should take responsibility to some extent regardless, whatever their means, to take care of themselves if they get picked up in a traffic accident or they have a heart attack and they go to the hospital. they shouldn't be able to just walk into that emergency room and have somebody else's insurance pay for it. that's the president's position. that was governor romney's position in massachusetts. are you with him on that? >> governor romney's position was massachusetts had a very special situation with only about 7% or 8% uninsured. the majority of them probably sfau falling in the category you have. and the state having a tax on
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everyone else to pay for those who could afford insurance and chose not to pay their bills. that's a particular situation. the rest of the states may not be like that. he wants the -- >> but the individual mandate is okay with you in massachusetts? >> if it's done by the state. not by the federal government. >> so it's a states' rights issue? >> that's correct. >> the principle of an individual mandate doesn't bother you? >> no. the heritage foundation, very -- the gold standard of -- >> you've got a memory. unlike most conservatives you've got a memory. the president's idea came from the heritage foundation. and now he's being whacked as a socialist. >> because the heritage foundation talked about it at a state level and the president didn't bother reading the second page. >> you're right. he saw it as a laboratory for the federal government. >> he didn't read the second page. >> let's talk about these issues like abortion. does it bother you that that massachusetts health care plan provided funding from the state-organized plan for abortion services? did that bother you? >> say that again. >> the plan. >> yes. >> which mitt romney -- >> right. >> -- sold and signed in massachusetts priecovided for coverage of abortion services. >> no, it didn't. it provided for health care. >> including -- >> no.
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the abortion services provision in there is actually the result of a 1981 supreme court decision and a 1997 massachusetts supreme court decision that says anytime you spend federal money on anything in health that anybody who receives that benefit has to have abortion services. it was not in the law. >> well, it's not in the obama plan. it does not provide for abortion services. how can that be the constitutional law of the country? >> well -- >> because the obama plan does not cover -- it honors the hyde amendment which prohibits any federal funding of abortion services. >> and even with that the obama administration is passing regulations which is forcing catholic hospitals, catholic -- >> you're skipping -- you're slipping and sliding away from the issue. >> no, no, no. >> does the massachusetts plan provide for abortion services? yes or no. >> no. the health care plan that was passed does not. the massachusetts supreme court requires it. there's a difference. >> the plan complies with the law. okay. let's go. romney. let me ask you about santorum. he seems to have the appeal,
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sort of the regular middle-class sort of blue-collar guy in his presentation. his grandfather came from italy, escaping mussolini's rule. a lot of it sound like the perfect pat buchanan view which i come from too, which is somewhat ethnic, very much patriotic, very much live free or die and very much anti-big government. will santorum benefit from the buchanan vote out here? will they come out for him against romney? >> i don't think senator santorum's been up here enough for people to know him. and he deserves to be congratulated for spending a year in iowa and doing as well as he did. but i think what he lacks up here is a structure to do it and, frankly, a message that really doesn't -- resonates. i think the governor, governor romney's message of being an executive resonates more. >> if he holds romney below 40 points, does he win? >> who? >> santorum. >> okay. no. >> thank you. when we return.
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35-25's a win for santorum. let me finish with whether the conservative church tent of the far right is opening its flaps now to roman catholics. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ shapiro ] at legalzoom, you can take care of virtually all your important legal matters in just minutes. now it's quicker and easier for you to start your business... protect your family... and launch your dreams. at, we put the law on your side. c'mon, michael! get in the game! [ male announcer ] don't have the hops for hoops with your buddies?
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no wonder snapshot's catching on. plug into the savings you deserve with snapshot from progressive. you tell us what you want to pay, and we give you a range of coverages to choose from. who is she? that's flobot. she's this new robot we're trying out, mostly for, like, small stuff. wow! look at her go! she's pretty good. she's pretty good. hey, flobot, great job. oops. [ powers down ] uh-oh, flobot is broken. the "name your price" tool, only from progressive. call or click today. let me finish tonight with this. a half century ago bigotry in this country had a somewhat different face. a large number of protestant ministers nationwide held a meeting in washington, d.c. then to stop a certain candidate from winning the presidency. the candidate causing the
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wildfire of concern was john f. kennedy. the problem causing the concern was his religion. he was roman catholic. well, the word is out now that a group of conservative christians is holding a similar meeting now to deal with another candidate they see as a danger to their philosophy. his name is mitt romney. the concern, at least on the surface, is that he is not a conservative, not a true one. but what's interesting here is that the two rival candidates that the conservative christian group in texas is thinking of endorsing, one would assume, are rick santorum and newt gingrich, either of whom -- again, it's fair to assume -- are likely candidates to unite that 75% of the republican electorate that is unhappy with the questionable politics of mitt romney. so this is progress, i would have to say. 52 years ago the keepers of traditional american flames met to keep the gates guarded against a roman catholic. well, this time around they're meeting to consider which of the two roman catholics to endorse. to gather within their circled wagons for the all-out fight with the invading